Located within the back alleys of the Florentine neighborhood is a small neighborhood called “The American Colony”. You basically can’t see it until you are inside of it, and once you get there it is like being transported back in time to the 1860’s.

The small neighborhood is a collection of prefabricated wooden houses that were bought from a Sears catalog and shipped to Israel as part of a group from Jonesboro, Maine called the “Christian Lovers of Zion.” They were on a mission to prepare the land for the return of the Jewish people.

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The group didn’t fare well and within the first year most of them died or left. There have been numerous groups that came and went after them until the houses were left abandoned and slated for demolition in the 1940’s.


Thankfully, the houses were saved and most have them been beautifully restored. Through Airbnb I was able to lucky enough to get invited to stay at the Historic American Colony Cottage.The house was purchased then lovingly preserved and restored by the owner, artist Sophie Jungreis. The house gives a really unique experience of American old fashioned country living in the center of Tel Aviv’s vibrant center.

When entering the house, I became nostalgic for my youth in Upstate New York where houses like these were part of Country Museums and colonial day celebrations. Sophie is an artist and bohemian.  She has been able to merge American olden days, Middle Eastern aesthetic and an artistic sensibility.

The rooms are small but charming, the furniture is quaint but comfortable. The home achieves a feeling in which guests are staying in a living museum. It seamlessly merges antiques and modern day works of art with a backyard sculpture garden. 

The rooms are equipped with modern day conveniences, air conditioning, wifi, cable and comfortable beds, but one step onto the veranda and you feel like you are in an Old West Saloon.

Because the entire neighborhood is restored, the experience is a total immersion akin to going back in time.  Next door to Sophie's house are other houses from the same era including a church and courtyard. It feels quite remarkable and hard to believe that just a few streets over in any direction is a bustling modern, Middle Eastern city.

Sophie is a charming host who is full of great stories.  When I was there, she had a house full of friends. I was invited to join them for dinner and each one had a unique story to tell. The house was full of music, art and camaraderie.

There are bedrooms for rent, but you can also rent the entire house. There is a well equipped kitchen and great space on the patio to entertain.

While the American Colony was originally a small community on the outskirts of Jaffa, it is now walking distance from just about everywhere you would like to be.  

To book a visit, check out the Airbnb link here

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